Food News

Chef Bee Responds to 50 Eggs Lawsuit: I Was "Kunkeled"

Round two has just started in the match that pits Chef Bee and Oishi Thai against John Kunkel and 50 Eggs.

Piyarat Potha Arreeratn, better known as Chef Bee, has responded to a lawsuit filed against him and his restaurant Oishi Thai on August 27, 2013 by former employer 50 Eggs Restaurant Company LLC. In June, 2012, Chef Bee was hired as executive chef at Khong River House, a restaurant specializing in Thai street food owned by 50 Eggs. About six months after the restaurant opened, Bee abruptly resigned from his position and returned full-time to his family-owned restaurant Oishi Thai in North Miami.

See also: 50 Eggs Sues Chef Bee, Claims He Broke "Out in Hives if He Had to Cook"

The 20-page Motion to Dismiss Complaint for Damages and Injunctive Relief, filed September 20, 2013 Miami-Dade Circuit Court , calls the original complaint "a spiteful, publicity-driven lawsuit with no legal merit" and "an attempt to stifle competition in contravention of clear Florida law and nothing more than an attempt to bully a small business owner through an over-pled compilation of misbegotten allegations."

The motion also gives the Miami restaurant scene a new word -- "Kunkeled" or "to Kunkel", which, according to the legal document means,

"To Kunkel" is acquiring a hire - liar - fire cache in the Miami restaurant business, as that appears to be 50 Eggs' pattern with its executive chefs: to hire them, accuse them of lying, and then fire them (or cause them to quit)."

See also: Khong's Chee Bee Headed to Oishi Thai

The motion also raises questions about 50 Eggs CEO John Kunkel's knowledge of Thai food -- and karma in general, and includes a picture of the 50 Eggs leader dining at Oishi Thai, presumably before Khong River House opened.

"One would also think that someone who "fell in love with Thailand," "stayed there for three years," "experienced the tastes and flavors of Thailand by sharing meals around tables in rural homes," and had a "life-altering" experience - as 50 Eggs claims Mr. Kunkel did beginning when he was eighteen, would understand that just because he ate food in Thailand some twenty or so years ago does not give him a quasi-monopoly

on the service of Thai food in Miami. One would also think that living in Thailand and

sharing food in family homes - much as he did in Chef Bee's restaurant in the picture above - would have taught him about karma. Again, apparently not."

See also: Chef Bee Is Happy at Oishi Thai

The document requests that the original lawsuit be dismissed, in part because "50 Eggs wants the Court to accept the argument that Chef Bee signed a contract in June 2012

binding him to documents which were not only never signed by him, they were not even created until five months later and were not provided him until a month after that."

In addition, the motion makes clear that there's one person in Miami who probably won't be eating at Chef Bee's family restaurant any time soon:

"Of course, Oishi Thai will freely agree to a prohibition against serving Mr. Kunkel any more Thai food - he has gorged himself quite enough at its tables (see picture above). But the failure to identify any other individual(s) means that all of 50 Eggs' tortious interference claims fail and must be dismissed."

Christopher S. Carver, one of Chef Bee's attorneys, told Short Order that their goal is to have the original complaint dismissed. "If 50 Eggs left it alone, none of this would have been necessary. Instead, 50 Eggs filed a meritless lawsuit, sent it to the media immediately weeks before before serving the lawsuit, and thus chose to fight in the media and the courts a dispute that could have been resolved quietly and, relatively, amicably. "

Brian Lerner, of Kim Vaughan Lerner LLP, the legal firm representing 50 Eggs, issued the following statement:

"Mr. Arreeratn and his attorneys wish to sensationalize this dispute by drafting motions clearly meant for the media and not for a court. Despite the spin from Mr. Arreeratn and his lawyers, 50 Eggs is not trying to close Oishi Thai or prevent Mr. Arreeratn from working. 50 Eggs has been and continues to ask Mr. Arreeratn to honor the promises that he made. All that was required was to drive six miles up the road to Broward to work at any restaurant of his choosing, stop using 50 Eggs's properties, and stop soliciting the hard working and talented employees who work for 50 Eggs. It is truly sad that Mr. Arreeratn wishes to make this a circus rather than recognize the promises he previously made."

The motion was filed in the Circuit Court of the 11th Judicial Circuit in and for Miami-Dade, Florida under case number 13-027964-CA 40.

The original lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court of the 11th Judicial Circuit in and for Miami-Dade, Florida, under case number 13-027964-CA-01.

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss